One of the best things about this region of Virginia is being able to have authentic cultural cuisine at your fingertips without needing a passport. I have never been to Peru, but if the food there is anything reminiscent of that which I had at Fairfax’s Cuzco Restaurant, then consider my bags packed.
Owned and operated by a family of Peruvian immigrants, the menu at Cuzco speaks with a keen sense of South American flavors that bring comfort food from their home to your belly.
Greeted by a dance floor, and a bar just as inviting, fine dining tables draped in white linen scattered the restaurant’s floor. Paintings and photography of Peruvian cities and coastlines served as visual backdrops to the Spanish music being played throughout the dining room. If that’s not enough, a live pianist drops by for dining entertainment every Thursday and Friday evening, to liven up the dance floor a bit.
Better than any traditional salsa opener, Cuzco starts every patron out with a bowl of fried corn kernels sprinkled with salt and pepper. The taste is a mix somewhere in between popcorn and tortilla chips that makes a delightful companion while menu browsing. True to the cuisine’s diversity, Cuzco’s selection offers anything from grilled favorites to pasta, incorporating Peruvian staples like potatoes, rice and fish.
A popular choice for many of their catered events, Cuzco’s Aji de Gallina Dip ($6) is served with restaurant-style tortilla chips. Shredded chicken in a thick yellow pepper sauce offers a creamy spice factor tamed by its crunchy component. The genius pairings didn’t stop there. The Jambalaya Creamy Pasta ($12.95) is a plentiful amount of sautéed chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage, with tomatoes and scallions, atop penne pasta with a slightly spicy — but not overpowering — creamy creole sauce. The shrimp and Cajun-inspired sauce was the perfect treat to celebrate the coming of summer weather and fresh seafood.
For a more traditional entrée, try the Lomo Saltado ($12.95). Described as “one of Peru’s signature dishes,” these strips of marinated beef came cooked in pisco liquor and soy sauce with tomatoes, onions and potatoes. It’s served over long basmati rice in amounts suitable for some rather scrumptious leftovers with an unforgettable taste.
Harder to forget than the taste of the food was the service. From a waitress who single-handedly killed a bumble bee that had found its way through the door to our waiter who had the most sincere delight in knowing we enjoyed our meal, the service at Cuzco’s was like finding yourself among old friends. Our waiter was more than happy to describe scenes depicted in the wall hangings, giving us background about Peru and a culture, it was clear, he was very fond of. This weekend, take a break from your go-to, same-old stomping grounds where they already know your name. Live a little and experience authentic Peruvian cuisine among friends. No passport required.
10801 Fairfax Blvd.
Monday – Wednesday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Thursday – Friday 11 a.m. – midnight